MINI CASE STUDY
DESIGN FOR MANUFACTURING

Increased throughput, reduced cost, and improved lead times through effective Design for Manufacturing

Do your Control Systems need on-site testing or programming prior to shipment to end customers or installation sites? 

Problem

Our customer recently introduced a completely new assembly, designed to be configurable for each customer. What was supposed to be a common platform that promised savings via economies of scale and lead time reduction quickly morphed into one of AMtec's (and our customer's) biggest headaches. While this new design was well intentioned, our customer overlooked several aspects that turned the assembly into a highly custom, labor intensive build. Our "common" assembly was anything but- over 50 custom assemblies and harnesses for just one of the dozen plus sub-assemblies. Drop-in orders suddenly required new configurations - changes that meant retrofits to existing builds that required nearly complete tear downs of WIP. Production was inefficient, and in many cases could not keep up with ramping demand. AMtec met with engineers and supply chain personnel and offered to redesign the assembly to improve the design for manufacturing.

Solution

Our primary focus was three areas: to reduce configurability, reduce build time, and to eliminate bottleneck areas- those "problem" areas of the assembly that due to space constraints took much longer to assemble than they should. We were quickly able to address the largest issue by changing out wire harnesses for a common bussbar that was able to support hundreds of different breaker combinations rather than requiring a unique harness for each configuration. Hard-wired terminal block distribution circuits were swapped out with custom three phase bussbars. A total of 60 wires were removed, reducing sub-assembly time by more than 90% and allowing last minute configuration changes now that unique wire harnesses were no longer needed. Due to the high volume nature of this build, silkscreening was added to all custom parts replacing the 50+ labels that were applied by hand. Components were reconfigured to have shorter wire runs, custom metal was redesign to eliminate reconfigurations. When all was said and done, AMtec's new design reduced total labor by more than 20% while also reducing material cost by 6%. Our end result increased throughput, reduced cost and lead time, and resulted in a product that both AMtec and our customer was proud to stand behind.

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